Before I came to Japan, I had no idea just how many of my day trips would be filled with amazing animal attractions! Whatever animals you love, you can find them here in Japan! So here are my top 5 (of many!) animal attractions in Japan!
Arguably the most famous of animal attractions one can find in Japan are its Cat Cafes. You can find these all over in Japan, in many different cities, towns and popular tourist spots. At these cafes, you pay a fee to spend an hour (or other allotted amount of time) with the cats, plus one drink. Usually, the drinks are typical cafe style drinks; coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice etc. The cats live in the cafe so are usually very at home there, and there will be lots of toys around so you can play with the fluffy creatures. A lot of these cat cafes also work as cat shelters, with many of the cats up for adoption if you are looking to take the experience home with you!
My first day in Japan, this is where I wanted to go. Located at the top of a mountain in Arashiyama, Kyoto is a Monkey Park! Up here the monkeys are free to roam around – no cages! The park used to be a research centre that studied the monkeys, and now it’s operated as more of a sanctuary and is open to the public. The only rules there are very simple; Don’t touch the monkeys, Don’t stare at them in the eye; Don’t crouch down (its seen as a sign of aggression); and only feed them inside the hut. The hut is open for everyone to go inside and be able to safely see the monkeys up close. And for a small charge, you can buy either apple chunks or peanuts to feed to the monkeys through the cage. Also, the view from the top of the mountain is amazing; a wonderful panorama of Kyoto city!
Arashiyama Monkey Park
Nara Park, in central Nara, is a large park home to some rather friendly deer! Once again, this is an animal experience without cages, the deer wander freely around the park, scouting out the visitors for their tasty treats. The treats they are searching for are the circular deer biscuits that are for sale all around the park. The deer here also have some seriously good manners. If you bow to them before feeding, they will bow too!
Another fairly famous cafe over in Japan in the Owl Cafe in Osaka. Just like the cat cafe mentioned above, you pay a fee for an hour with the owls and one drink. They have lots of different owls here and rotate them accordingly – so none of them are too tired! They also have owls of all different sizes; some can only sit on your arm or shoulder, but the tiny ones can also sit on your head! Be careful if you want to wear anything shiny/ metal in your hair though; one of the owls tried to take out my hair clip! The staff here didn’t really speak English, but tried their best to help us out, saying the odd word in English during the safety talk, and they used a puppet owl so we could see what they were saying at the same time!
In my number one spot is the incredible Snow Monkey Park, in Nagano. (I know there are two monkey entries but, they both deserve it!). Another mountain climb awaits you here, but the reward is even more amazing than you’d expect! At the top of the mountain, you will find a multitude of natural hot springs (some of which do have a little stink to them because of the sulphur!). In these hot springs, you will find huge families of monkeys relaxing and keeping warm amongst the snow. The monkeys are wild, so still no touching allowed but, you are able to get very close to them to take pictures – I had a great time! I could have happily stayed there all day to watch the monkeys, it truly was a fantastic sight!
So, those are my top 5 animal attractions in Japan, but they are by no means all of them! Animals seem to play a huge part in a lot of great tourist attractions throughout Japan, so be sure to be ready to encounter some incredible things!